Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

Where would there be a discussion of improper usage of "penultimate" to mean "ultimate"? Would there be a USAGE category? Sorry, I'm from w'pedia and I don't know the etiquite here. -justfred

You can add a =Usage Notes= section if necessary, although it doesn't seem to be required it really a very common mistake? Widsith 16:33, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

It's such a common mistake that it's not a mistake anymore. I've herd more people use it in conversation, on a menu. "your penultimate pizza" is either a dire warning or indicates this is now how the word is understood. 01:06, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

I would also point out that the interpretation that ultimate is "best" is a similar mistake and is accepted in this dictionary. 01:11, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

User:SemperBlotto just reverted the definition from

"# The next-to-last in a sequence. For example, in a sequence of events, the penultimate event is the one that precedes the final or ultimate event, but follows the antipenultimate event. "# The best."

back to:

"# The next-to-last in a sequence. For example, in a sequence of events, the penultimate event is the one that precedes the final event."

There are two advantages that I see to the unreverted version (1) it makes the link between ultimate, penultimate and antipenultimate clear (2) it includes the definition which I most often hear people use (best) and I'm not sure what a dictionary is if not a listing of what words mean when people use them. What's the advantage of the reverted version? 22:56, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

  • Penultimate does not mean best. If you think this is a valid modern usage you should provide evidence from printed sources.
  • Antipenultimate is a spelling mistake - you mean antepenultimate.
  • A penultimate item follows an antepenultimate one only if there are more than two items in the list, and therefore is not part of a general definition.
  • Antepenultimate should be given in the ====Derived terms==== section. SemperBlotto 07:07, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

SemperBlotto, thanks for the comments, I appreciate it. I'm not sure what you mean when you say "penultimate doesn't mean best." Again, by the same logic ultimate doesn't mean best. And how can we interpret, "Riddle's Penultimate Restaurant and Wine Bar" [1] (you can find other reviews of the same establishment online), or this person's review finding another restaurant to be, "The penultimate restaurant in Nashville"[2] what could that even mean? I'll admit the use isn't quite common and must derive from creative interpretation, but that doesn't make it invalid or not what people are trying to use. Perhaps it should appear with a note that snoots will laugh if you use it in that sense. 13:10, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I don't think that we accept the names of restaurants as proof of something's meaning. Also, people misuse words all the time out of ignorance. It takes a lot of people making the same mistake before it becomes an accepted part of the language. You can always raise the matter in the Tea room if you would like other people's opinion on this. SemperBlotto 07:16, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

I am not a native English speaker. Please indicate a valid source for "second last" as a synonym of "penultimate". Andres 08:07, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Why? Mglovesfun (talk) 13:35, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't think Wiktionary can be reliable without sources or at least a possibility to find a source. I didn't find that phrase in any English dictionary. However, subsequently I found that some books used the phrase in that meaning, so that I was convinced. Andres 18:20, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Deletion discussion[edit]

Green check.svg

The following information passed a request for deletion.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, though feel free to discuss its conclusions.


Noun. Not the linguistics sense but the general sense seems to me to be another example of a fused-head construction. DCDuring TALK 16:55, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Even the linguistics sense is suspect; it's usually called the penult. —Angr 18:22, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Move to RFV. In particular, if these senses are attested in the plural ("penultimates"), then the noun POS is valid. - -sche (discuss) 03:15, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
I've added a quote for the second to last day of the month from 1529 and added the other meanings I've found. I think the general sense should be deleted, leaving the more specific ones. Nothing is at RFV at this point, just here. WilliamKF (talk) 23:15, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
Should move to RFV really. Equinox 23:16, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Kept for lack of consensus to delete; no prejudice against taking to RfV, since citations were not provided in this discussion. bd2412 T 20:17, 25 February 2014 (UTC)